COVID-19 and State Economy
(Public Interest Debate, Tuesday 11 May, Legislative Assembly)
I put on the record the thanks I have for the New South Wales Government in working so constructively with the City of Sydney to support one of the greatest negatively impacted parts of our economy from the COVID-19 pandemic—Sydney's CBD, which was hit hardest.
As we know, Sydney's CBD has resting on its shoulders the State's and the nation's economy, but it was hit so hard. I put on the record the great work that the City of Sydney has done in collaboration with the New South Wales Government, which includes $2 million in small business relief grants. These were grants of up to $10,000 and they were to be used to support businesses through some of their difficult times.
The CBD summits have been held twice so far throughout this time and they have included the Treasurer, the Lord Mayor, the shadow Treasurer and me, as well as key stakeholders from impacted sectors. We were able to all come together and come up with ideas and solutions to support the economy in the city. The city has also put in place a dedicated team to help people through the grant process and provide tips on how to make a successful application. We have seen a great waiving of fees and rent reviews from the city as well to help their tenants be able to thrive. Most importantly, a key part of ensuring that we are building this post-COVID economy has been some of the policy changes that we have seen put in place. Many policy changes were initially temporary or emergency measures, but many of them are now permanent. Anybody who has spent time in the CBD and surrounding suburbs has seen the huge success of outdoor dining and the way in which we have made it easier for restaurants, cafes and small bars to use footpath space thus enabling people to enjoy the beautiful outdoors while dining and enjoying some of Sydney's great meals.
We have seen changes to the way in which loading docks and deliveries work, which has meant we are able to have more efficient delivery and distribution of goods. We have also seen great work done with cycleways across the CBD where uptake in cycling has increased by 40 per cent. It has taken a pandemic to get some of these policies changed but it is great that they have changed. The lockouts have also been finally removed—great support for our nightlife economy which has been hit extremely hard. Following advocacy from the sector, the Lord Mayor and me, the New South Wales Government has also injected a great deal of support into live music venues, which has been welcomed by a hard-hit sector.
We have seen the fast-tracking of capital works by the City of Sydney—the fast-tracking of some $23 million worth of capital works—from paving upgrades, park and landscape renewals and essential building upgrades. It is important to note that it takes a well-run, economically stable and strong local government to be able to support its community through some of the toughest financial times. That has been achieved by the City of Sydney—a testament to the continued strength and leadership of Lord Mayor Clover Moore. I thank the Government for bringing this motion to the House. We still have a long way to go in supporting so many communities across the State through the COVID recovery but it is good to see the local and State governments working together to achieve that end.
Full debate HERE